It is the tournament that separates champions from mortals. It is the starting point for the careers of future legends and can be the final stop on the down escalator for fading stars. The annual PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament is one of the most grueling competitions in any sport. Every fall, veterans and talented hopefuls sweat through six rounds of hell at Q school, as the tournament is universally known, to get a shot at the PGA Tour, vying for the 30 slots available. The grim reality: if you don’t make it through Q school, you’re not on the PGA tour. You’re out. And those who make it to the six day finals are the lucky ones: Hundreds more players fail to get through the equally grueling first two stages of the event. John Feinstein tells the story of the players who compete for these coveted positions in the 2005 Q school as only he can. With arresting accounts from the players, established winners, rising stars, the defeated and the endlessly hopeful, America’s favorite sportswriter unearths the inside story behind the PGA Tour’s brutal all-or-nothing competition.
First clue I made a mistake picking up this book – I did not know how many majors there are in golf.
It only went downhill from there.
This book tries to follow the course of one Q School, the PGA’s qualifying tournament. Feinstein is so loosey goosey with his stories, though, it’s hard to tell there’s any through line at all. Each chapter is filled with stories about players struggling through the three round tourney but most fall into one of two camps:
– Young hotshot gets into the PGA tour easily the first time, then ends back up in the Q School of Hard Knocks
– Older, established player becomes injured or otherwise loses their swing, requiring them to go back to Q School even though they were great
After a few chapters it felt like I was reading reruns. Add in Teflon names that just wouldn’t stick (from one page: Steve, Jeff, Joe, Brad, Patrick, Garrett, Steve) and it was reruns.
Feinstein’s memory seemed to fail him now and then, telling the story of Mize’s amazing Masters shot no fewer than three times while leaving out helpful clues when a player reappeared. A little intro like, “so-and-so, the mini tour player that injured his back so dramatically,” or whatever, would have helped immeasurably. I was lucky there were two Japanese guys in the pack or I wouldn’t have remembered anyone.
This book may have a little value for those who are already deep in the sport, but lay people should stay away.